Building Strength Inside and Outside The Gym
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about gaining strength? Like most, you probably imagine going to the gym and using the various machines and free weights.
While the gym is undoubtedly a great place to develop your physical abilities, it is far from the only option. In today’s post, we’ll review good alternatives and exercises you can leverage to build strength and become more functional outside the gym.
Let’s break it down.
Building Strength Outside The Gym: How Reliable Is It?
Before diving into any specifics, it’s essential to discuss what leads to strength gain in the first place. Working out at a gym is not inherently unique, but it works well for strength gains because it allows you to provide the necessary stimulus and create an overload.
Strength is simply your body’s response to external stress. Whether the stress comes from lifting a barbell at the gym or doing push-ups at home, the results are identical. Of course, for any form of training to be effective, it must disrupt homeostasis––the state of equilibrium your body strives to maintain.
Home exercise is more tricky for strength gain because it tends to be more difficult to overload your muscles. The primary option is to do more reps as you get stronger, but there are other effective methods you can use.
How to Build Strength And Balance Outside The Gym
Building strength and balance starts by working on your ‘core.’ As the name suggests, the core refers to the collection of muscles that make up your midsection. Aside from the abs and obliques, other core muscles include the transverse abdominis, diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, erector spinae, and glutes.
Developing the core is crucial for building strength because these muscles keep you stable, provide safety, and allow you to perform at your best.
Good core exercises you can do at home include:
- The plank
- Glute bridges
- Dead bug
You can also use basic fitness equipment like a balance mat or a resistance band to do more challenging exercises and keep your training engaging. For instance, the job of a balance mat is to improve your proprioception––your ability to sense movement, external forces, body position, and more. A balance mat also strengthens the muscles in your feet and ankles due to the increased stability demand.
Two fantastic exercises you can do on a balance mat are basic squats and single-leg balancing with a hip hinge (Romanian deadlift). Squats are much easier to do, but they are still challenging. Romanian deadlifts are a more advanced movement because you have to deal with twice the instability: supporting yourself on one foot and being on a balance mat.
Similarly, resistance bands are a fantastic addition to your training because you can do various effective movements to develop core strength and overall stability. One notable example is the Pallof press, where you attach a resistance band at stomach or chest height, grab it, and stand sideways to the attachment point. You then must take a couple of steps away to create band tension. Once in position, begin pressing the band forward and returning it to your stomach while resisting the torso rotation. The exercise is fantastic for developing your obliques and other core muscles, leading to more stability and solid rotational strength.